Hospitals are filled with protocol. A few of these rules are utilized on a daily basis, like requiring doctors to wash hands before and after entering the room of a post-operative patient. In other cases, the protocols may be used less often, like one requiring that surgical instruments used on a patient with symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease undergo enhanced sterilization before they are used on another patient.Even though some protocols may be exercised less often, they are in place for a reason. The situation mentioned above wasn’t a random example; it is a protocol that was recently passed over in one hospital, resulting in 18 patients being exposed to a very rare but very fatal disorder.Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a disorder that affects the brain, causing patients to suffer dementia that progresses at a rapid pace. Although the incubation period for the disorder may last years, once the symptoms present, the patient may have only weeks or months to live. The disorder is incurable, always fatal and unusually resistant to normal disinfection and sterilization procedures.In this case, the hospital conducted a procedure on a patient that had visible symptoms of the disorder that the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says is involved in 200 cases per year in the U.S. When the procedure was over, the tools were not sent for enhanced sterilization. Instead, they were used in 18 more neurosurgeries.When a patient is injured by a hospital’s failure to follow protocol, it could act as the basis for a medical malpractice claim. Whether there is a viable claim or not isn’t always the easiest diagnosis for the average person to make, which is why patients injured in Pennsylvania should seek the counsel of a Harrisburg attorney immediately.Source: Modern Healthcare, “18 patients exposed to fatal brain disorder at N.C. hospital,” Sabriya Rice, Feb. 11, 2014